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Back-to-School Shopping is Seeing a Second Wave

Even though online shopping is the norm, this RetailMeNot survey of 1,000 consumers found that 61% of consumers are still shopping in stores when it comes to back-to-school items (compared to 39% shopping back-to-school items online). The growing popularity of secondhand shopping amongst teens could have something to do with the in-store shopping increase, with 47% of teens shopping secondhand, based on this Piper Sandler survey of 14,500 U.S. teens.

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Reasons for a Back-to-School Shopping Return

While most school shopping takes place in late summer, it's not uncommon for purchases to continue past the first weeks of school. Many students get a list of new supply requests in their first weeks from teachers, and new supplies are needed for special projects as the year goes on.

Let's go back to the return from remote year in 2020

With remote school dominating in the 2020-2021 school year, students had different focuses in their school shopping. Our 2021 customer research study found that parents of school-aged children plan to spend more on clothes and shoes, and less on electronics, in their back-to-school shopping this year compared to last.

USA Today expects back-to-school spending to stay somewhat steady at $36.9 billion for K-12 children (compared to 37.1 billion last year), with college students representing another $73.9 billion. 

Looking to peers for trends

Students, particularly teens and young adults, are becoming increasingly reluctant to make certain types of buying decisions before the official start of the school year. This is true for almost every category, from wardrobe to backpacks to devices.

Why? The desire to fit in and follow fashion trends motivates kids to wait and see what items or trends are popular amongst their peers. This may be especially true following the period of virtual school when students didn't have the same opportunity to observe friends daily.

Tips to Shop the Second Wave

Many parents are returning to stores when students are back in classrooms. If you're among them, here's how to get the most out of your second wave shopping.

1. Look for ongoing deals

Since back-to-school sales started in July, many have ended, or have low inventory on the discounted items. Keep an eye out for ongoing deals, and discounts on end of summer sales and Labor Day weekend sales on the products you want.

2. Go for quality

Our study revealed that 30% of parents replace items like electronics and bags every year. Investing in higher quality items that could be used year after year can save you in the long-run. Look for companies like Mulberry that offer extended warranties that cover wear and tear and accidental damage. 

3. Take advantage of discount options

Online shopping is the preferred method for most back-to-school shoppers this year. Along with the perks of convenience and more options, shopping online can offer opportunities to save. Look for discount codes and coupons before making purchases. The Mulberry browser extension allows you to get affordable protection plans wherever you shop online - install it for free today and start saving!


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Janessa McQuivey

About the author

Janessa McQuivey is the Content Marketing Manager at Mulberry. Her degree in Human Development fueled a love of understanding customer experience. She has been in research and writing for 3 years and has covered everything from AI technology to her own dating life. Janessa has published across blogs, newspapers, and academic journals.

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